- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) - A western Michigan farm is helping refugees build their own businesses.

Donations have helped Bethany Christian Services start Hope Farms, a refugee operated farm in Kentwood, according to WOOD-TV ( https://bit.ly/1juzHi8 ).

About 600 refugees, forced from their homes due to war and conflict, come to the Grand Rapids area every year.

Thawng Mu, a refugee from Burma, is one of the head farmers at Hope Farms, about 30 refugees in all work the land.

Organizers said it’s a great way to train them in growing and selling their produce, after three years they can branch out into their own businesses.

Many of the refugees come to America with agriculture backgrounds.

“They come here to the U.S. and it still doesn’t feel like home and you come out here to the field and you see them doing what they know how to do, what they’ve been doing for decades and they finally start to feel like they’re coming home again,” Hope Farms Manager Scott Townley said.

Thawng Mu told 24 Hour News 8 via interpreter that he’s been in the U.S. for about five years and hopes the farm will help build a better future for his family.

“Not only can it feed my family, I can sell it too and some of the vegetables we plant are expensive at the grocery store,” Thawng Mu said. “I think it’s very helpful for us.”

Farm organizers said they would like to see programs like Hope Farms in other parts of the state as well.

Hope Farms produce can be found at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ Farmers Market.


Information from: WOOD-TV, https://www.woodtv.com

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